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Stream: The Good Samaritan for Social Media


It takes two seconds for a click to redirect you, or otherwise, it’s considered late.

The average page loading is 2 seconds, and if your site takes its time to load, chances are - you’ll lose the visitor.

The problem of speed updates became personal to Thierry Schellenbach, who was a founder of Fashilista - a fashion social network. Being an algorithm wizard himself, he took matters into his own hands and solved the problem of every social network, including Facebook and Twitter.

The solution, called Stream, supports activity feeds for over a billion end-users of a network. Thanks to it, social media can reach markets faster, solve technical issues faster and grow their business more effectively.

Today, thanks to Thierry and Stream, social networks can thrive. But, the road to becoming such a good social network samaritan was filled with lots of risks, and lessons - let’s see how far all of it took him.

The Gift of Numbers

Thierry Schellenbach was born and raised in Dordrecht, Holland. Since he was a child, Thierry had a thing for numbers and deeply enjoyed Math while he was in elementary school. While Thierry was a born mathematician, for Matt, numbers were not as much in the cards.

Thierry spent his high school days in Johan de Witt- gymnasium, which is one of the oldest grammar schools in Holland. In those crazy years filled with lots of ideas, night outings, friends, gigs, you name it, Thierry managed to get outstanding scores in Math A - 10.0, Math B - 8.7, and Economics - 9.6. These results got him graduated with honors and made him the first student to achieve the highest marks in two subjects.

That aside, Thierry was also chosen for the tutor position for a Latin concourse - Cicero and became the youngest in his class to take it.

Tying Honors Becomes a Tradition

The outstanding honors brought Thierry to Erasmus University in Rotterdam, considered the 5th most prestigious university in Europe, where Thierry began his undergraduate studies in Business Administration in 2005.

During his student years, Thierry showed nothing but pure dedication and talent. He also continued the tradition of getting honors, as he showed outstanding performances on his tests.

Thierry earned his BA degree in 2008, along with his ERIM Honors, and Erasmus Honors as well. But, what did the future hold for Thierry?

Riding Along the Entrepreneur Highway

Circa 2010s, Thierry decided to go to an open coffee event that turned out to be not so ordinary. During the event, Thierry overheard a conversation between three fellas who had been crafting their business plan that, as far as Thierry understood, had something with payments.

A few years later, those three fellas were the founders of the Netherlands' greatest success stories.

When Thierry saw the headlines, the memory from the cafe flashed before his eyes, and he used it as fuel to start his own company. Soon after his graduation, Thierry and three of his friends founded their first start-up Fashiolista.

Although they struggled at the beginning to find investors, Thierry never backed down and brought the company to a level so great that he was able to later sell it and secure himself a fund for further investments.

After he sold the company, he moved to Colorado where the Stream story begins.

A Lesson to Remember

The idea for Stream first came from Fashiolista. Namely, while Thierry was working on Fashiolista, one of the prominent issues he had was scalability in the activity feed, especially when the social network grew to millions of users. And, it wasn't their issue only, but a problem to all social networks including giants like Facebook or Twitter.

Driven by the severity of the issue, Thierry made a rational choice that he must find a solution to the ongoing feed problems. Every time the user audience grew, Thierry had issues keeping the activity feed up by default, and that was the start of Stream.

To the Promised Land

When Thierry and his co-founders finished the product, they had to find the investors to pitch their idea before. Unfortunately, they knew that seeking investments in Europe was a long shot. Although the Dutch fundraising ecosystem encourages such investments, it was still a struggle to find someone eager enough to back them up.

From experience, Thierry knew that, with Fashiolista, it took them months to close rounds which in start-up years is too long.

So, at this point, they didn't want to play on home ground and decided to go to Techstars New York and try their luck. Luckily, they managed to pitch their idea and close the rounds at New York's pace - effective till the last minute.

However, the fundraising ecosystems weren't the only reason they pitched their idea in America. Thierry knew that European vs. American competence differs in every sense of the word. In fact, Thierry was determined to leave for America, and when he arrived, he and his team eagerly joined TechStars in New York in 2015.

Landing Investors

Two days after they did a demo of the app, Thierry got an email from Dharmesh Shah, and what do you know. Mr. Dharmesh complained about the same issues he had faced regarding feed, but at the end of the email, he suggested becoming their investor.

Thierry and his team were thrilled because what would have taken months to accomplish in Europe, they wrapped up in two days. It was a day of celebration for them, but also, a stimulus to work even harder from that moment onward.

Thierry wasted no time reaching out to Mr. Dharmesh and when he finally got a hold of the investor, Thierry ended up shocked to learn that Mr. Dharmesh only planned to invest $100 thousand in the Stream platform.

The Stream Way

Stream is software that helps companies develop enterprise-grade activity feed and chat APIs. Basically, it supplies activity feeds and chats for a billion end-users through two devices - and economically and efficiently.

To do so, Stream has UI sets, scalable APIs, frontend parts for React, React Native, Flutter, iOS, and Android. Also, it has a machine learning and management dashboard integrated into the software.

Thanks to Stream, many social networks have the support that can handle scalability for over a billion end-users.

Handling the Pandemic Like a Boss

By 2020, Stream had closed $15 million in a Series A funding round led by GGV Capital. The new round brought $20.25 million in total funding.

This funding was planned for heavy investments in scaling the fields of engineering, sales, and marketing. As the Stream implementation in healthcare and education gave exceptional results, with over 30% to 40%, month-to-month, the results were a reason to raise funding - but it had to be done in uncertain times during the pandemic.

Stream’s chat API has grown by 300% during the last two trimesters of 2020. In simple terms, the company’s total revenue will hit $100 million by the end of the year.

However, apart from the great success, Stream managed to land Dick Costolo, otherwise known as the former CEO of Twitter, Olivier Pomel, and Tom Preston Werner. Having these names as your angel investors and backup open doors everywhere.

Considering risks to be a part of business, Thierry decided to raise the funding even if he had to do it over Zoom.

Streaming Success

When they started off their company, it was only the friends around the project and today, there are around 25 loyal employees who stick to the Steam codes.

With its offices in Washington, US, the company succeeded to expand to Europe as they became the much-needed solution with any social media startup.

Ultimately, Stream has grown into a social media fortifier and a brand name that keeps the world of online platforms and social media smooth and flawless!